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William Hunter Burnt at the Stake - Transubstantiation
James Hutton - Geologist
Brentwood was once named the most boring town in Britain (Boredtown is an anagram of Brentwood!), But as you will see there is quite a bit of interest here. Not much is known about early Brentwood. It seems few people lived here because the forests were too dense. The Great Roman Road from London to Colchester runs through the town but no Roman remains have been found.
The earliest definite signs of occupation came in the early part of the second millennium. The site of Brentwood stood on the easiest route for pilgrims travelling from the midlands and East Anglia to Canterbury via the Tilbury ferry across the Thames. They were heading for the cathedral to pay their respects to Thomas à Becket who was murdered in 1170. They may have stopped at camps or even hostelries nearby and eventually a clearing was formed in the woods possibly from chopping trees for firewood (charcoal?) and a town developed in what was called Burntwood which became Brentwood. The name Burntwood survives today. In the latter half of the 12th Century, William of Ockendon (Ockendon is a town nearby) gave to the Abbey of St Osyth (on the Essex coast 30 miles or so away) his lands of Brentwood called Cocstede (Cockstead still exists nearby). Permission was granted by the Vicar of South Weald for the Abbot of St Osyth to build a chapel for use of the growing population and passing pilgrims. It was dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury. Only the ruins remain today in Brentwood's High Street.
There's a small bit of history in Brentwood, the William Hunter Memorial Commemorates a silk-weaver's apprentice who was burnt at the stake for his religious beliefs at the age of 19 on 27th March 1555 his problem was with:
Transubstantiation - The theory accepted by Catholicism, that in the Lord's Supper, the elements are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus. However, there is no perceptible or measurable change in the elements. The transformation occurs during the Mass at the elevation of the elements by the priest.
I will set the scene. Henry the Eighth had set up the Church of England against the Pope. He had allowed the Bible to be printed in English not in the impossible Latin used by the learned clergy. When Mary was made Queen in 1553 she restored the Papal authority and laws were passed to restore the Latin services. William Hunter had been dismissed from his job as a silk weaver in London because of his views and he came to Brentwood where his parents were. He couldn't keep out of trouble and got into a dispute, while reading the Bible in Brentwood Chapel, with officers of the Chapel and of South Weald Church (now a hamlet near to Brentwood but then had the larger church and controlled Brentwood). William couldn't accept that Bread could actually turn into the Body of Christ and that wine could turn into the Blood of Christ even though it still looked like bread and wine. William said that the bread and wine was intended to remind us of Christ not that anything changed in it. He appeared to be a follower of the new English type church and this upset the local vicars who welcomed the old Latin services.
He was taken before the local Justice Antony Browne with whom he again argued. He was taken to London to see the Bishop Bonner who tried to reason with him but it was to no avail. After 2 days in the stocks he was taken to prison. 5 times during the next nine months the Bishop saw him and on the last occasion before he was condemned the Bishop said:
"If thou wilt yet recant, I will make thee a Freeman in the City, and give thee 40 pound in good money to set up thine occupation withall; or I will make thee steward of my house and set thee in office. For I like thee well, thou hast wit enough, and I will prefer thee, if thou wilt recant"
The Bishop gave him his chances but William would not change his mind. He was sent to Newgate prison for a month then he was among several prisoners sent to suffer death in their home towns. His fate was put off for a day or so as he arrived in Brentwood on the Saturday before the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, so like good Catholics the locals put off the burning until the following Tuesday.
On 27 March 1555 he was taken to the 'Town End' by the Butts and was burnt at the stake.
The people witnessed it. It is not known how they viewed the spectacle. His brother was with him to the last and seemed to escape any penalty through association. The brother eventually wrote up his account for posterity. The site of the burning is now in Brentwood School. A monument was raised in the 19th century but it seems this caused disagreement as it was put up on the boundary of Brentwood and Shenfield the locals not wanting it in Brentwood.
The Chapel he was found reading is now in ruins and can be found in the centre of Brentwood:
Click here for a Map of Brentwood showing a Heritage trail and the main sites of interest:
History Trail through Brentwood
Religion is also part of the history of Billericay a town a few miles away. One of it's claims to fame is that four of it's residents went on a little trip to America some years ago. This particular group was led by Christopher Martin, a puritan, He left Billericay to escape religious persecution, you've probably guessed that he went on the Mayflower in 1620. There is a town sign and it depicts a sailing ship. It had puzzled me for quite a while as to what this ship was about but I saw the explanation in a local newspaper.
A thought: "Tall oaks from little acorns grow" quoted by David Everett (aged 7) in 1776. We have couple of notable trees in our area. Both are in Thorndon Park. One is called The Crinoline Lady. This is an oak which has a growth around the trunk which makes it look like it has a skirt. The other one is sometimes called the Pregnant Mother as it has another bulging growth. On a school trip Peter was told it was called 'Arold. It later was explained the kids were being asked 'how old' they thought the tree was. I wonder 'arold the Crinoline lady is? I read in a book about Brentwood that during the 1850's-60's Ladies wearing crinoline dresses were unable to enter the Post Office because the door was too small!
Brentwood's first postmaster - Samuel Smith who earned £5 per year in 1637 which was still being paid in 1760.
Here is an article published in 'Brentwood Weekly News' on 2/2/2001 written by Sylvia Kent. I hope she doesn't mind me reproducing it here.:
|A Run on the
Banks By SYLVIA KENT
TODAY we need to be financial wizards to keep upwith the fiscal situation-as banks and building societies merge
Life seemed simpler in past times when the big five banks National Provincial, Midland, Lloyds, Westminster and Barclays dominated the High Street The late Margaret Brown once described her life living above the shop when her father managed a local bank. "We used to live in rooms over the bank. This wasnt unusual in the l920's - most people who traded in the High Street lived there too and accommodation usually came with the job.
"Managing a bank was considered an important and respectable profession then. After cashing up, father would come upstairs and relax after his long banking day."
Provincial banking began middle 18th century, gaining momentum, so that by the early l800's it had become an important part of the economy of the country.
It's growth paralleled the rise in the increasing demand for credit brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
Prior to joint stock-banks, wealthy individuals with good connections in the City were allowed to set up as bankers, despite having almost no experience of finance, but first they bad to gain the trust of the local people.
One rich High Street grocer, Frederick W Lemon, had gained the confidence of shopkeepers and farmers and in the 1851 census he was described as "banker", a title he had held since 1834. He was much respected by the townsfolk - and had been responsible for constructing buildings and a new road off the High Street around 1840. Sadly his business failed in 1854, but he managed to pay his depositors 2s 6d (12p) in the pound. By that time the London and County Bank had opened on the site of the present National Westminster Bank. Only one clerk managed the premises and this is confirmed in the 1871 census.
Then in 1883 the "Essex Bank" came to Brentwood. It had been founded in 1801 by the firm of Crow, Sparrow and Brown becoming the Sparrow, Tufnell Bank in 1847. It's Chelmsford branch was known as the Essex Bank, later Barclays. Many small banks flourished but then collapsed and were absorbed by larger organisations.
One of the most unusual banks for small depositors is described by John Larkin in Fireside Talks about Brentwood 1906-1926. Close to the Hunter Memorial, along the Ingrave Road, stood a tiny, bow-windowed shop kept by a Miss Jenkins, who sold religious books, hymn-sheets and stationary. But on Saturday mornings from 10-12 noon, it was managed as a bank by clergy from neighbouring parishes and only discontinued with the coming of the Post Office Savings Bank. As the Government are trying to get the Post Office to set up banking services, particularly in rural areas, it seems we have come full circle.
People who are connected with Brentwood
Ross Kemp - Actor in East Enders, lives in Shenfield and went to Shenfield High School near Hutton
Frank Bruno - Boxer used to live in Hutton Mount but now lives a few miles away
Trevor Brooking - Ex football player now regularly appears on TV.
Alan Sugar - Ex Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur Football club owns Amstrad a computer and electronics company based in Brentwood.
Martin Peters - Football player - Gill saw him in the dry cleaners
Steve Davis - snooker player - She saw him in the bookshop
Pixie Lott - haven't seen her yet (as far as I know)
Jodie Marsh - Haven't seen her here either!
There's a pub in Hutton called 'The Hutton Junction'. It used to called just 'The Hutton' and had a Pub Sign of James Hutton outside. This sign is now a stylised picture of an old railway engine. James Hutton was a geologist (born Edinburgh 1726 died 1797). He became to be called the 'Founder of Modern Geology.' Before he started geology he studied Medicine, achieved his MD at Leyden in 1749. He returned to Edinburgh and studied agriculture later taking over his fathers farm in Berwickshire in 1754. He moved again to Edinburgh in 1768 his geological discoveries followed. One of his important discoveries was in 1787 when he discovered 'Hutton's Unconformity' on the Isle of Arran. This is where the much younger Cornstone beds covered the old landscape surface composed of ancient Dalradian schists. When I was 17 I went camping/walking on Arran and tried to find it.
He published three works,
the first in 1788 'Theory of the Earth or an investigation of the
Laws Observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration
of Land Upon the Globe' (Trans. Roy.Soc. Edinburgh). I don't know
but it seems as though this wasn't convincing enough and in 1795
he published in Edinburgh his 'Theory of the Earth, with Proofs
and Illustrations' (an additional edited volume was published
with a preface and notes by A Geikie in 1899 (a century later!)
by London Geological Society. Geikie was the most important
geologist of the time so Hutton's work must have been very
important. Hutton also published 'Remarks and Observations on
Granite with his friend J Hall (1761-1832 Baronet of Dunglass E.
Lothian) Interesting Huh?? It's logical for a Pub in Hutton to be
called the Hutton but I don't know if there is any other
connection between James Hutton and the village. I haven't yet
found out if he ever came here.
Picture of Hutton:
Another little bit of history:
This picture gives the dates but the story is this was the first police officer of the Essex Constabulary to be killed whilst on active duty. Robert Bambrough was drowned in a pond in Hutton by the criminal that he was escorting from Billericay Magistrates Court on 21st November 1850. This stone is just inside the Hutton Boundary. The full story is related in the Essex Police Roll of Honour. It seems I had previously incorrectly been advised that he died trying to stop a runaway horse.
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